We have officially entered a new calendar year, and the hospitality and travel industry has reached a digital tipping point. There is no better time to initiate the digitization process before it is too late to catch up. To this effect, global spending on digital transformation is expected to reach $6.8 trillion by the end of this year. Moreover, 87% of business leaders think the digital transformation will disrupt their industry, and companies with digital-first strategies are reportedly 64% more likely to achieve their business goals than competitors. In what could perhaps be referred to as a digital transformation boom, Deloitte reports that implementing digital technologies helps accelerate progress towards enterprise goals such as financial returns, workforce diversity, and environmental targets by 22%. In that same breath, PTC reports that executives cite enhanced operational efficiency (40%), faster time to market (36%), and meeting customer expectations (35%) (PTC, 2018) as the top benefits of digital transformation.
As industry experts continue to divulge their predictions for those areas of business best primed for transformation, a great deal of consideration has been given to the future of travel. As one of the world’s largest industries, accounting for over 10% of global GDP and 334 million jobs worldwide, the travel and hospitality sector offers technologists a world of disruptive opportunity. After all, many of the processes and systems which have long defined the industry are in desperate need of an overhaul, and in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting labor crisis, hospitality brands appear more eager to embrace operational change than ever before. What’s more, we are witnessing an undeniable shift amongst modern travelers, as hospitality brands that leverage tech to offer a more seamless, convenience-driven, intuitive experience are edging ahead of their competitors. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of the foremost technology trends poised to transform the hospitality industry.
This trend is rather evident. Still, as hotel and travel brands work overtime to meet post-pandemic demand despite ongoing labor shortages, the scalability advantage offered by intuitive digital platforms has become paramount. Hotels can no longer afford to resist industry-wide innovation; with platforms and programs that leverage automation and intelligent data capture to simplify otherwise manual and cumbersome tasks, properties will have the workforce to deliver on guest expectations. After all, our industry needs to be in a position to benefit from the post-pandemic surge in travel demand – not become crippled by it. Hotels must utilize available technology to rise to the occasion, not just today but for the foreseeable future. To this effect, a joint survey from Skift and AWS reported that “executives are more concerned about business disruptions from legacy and outdated technology than anything else.” As well they should be, given the latest travel disruptions caused by outdated technology. Legacy technology is thankfully on its way out – and hoteliers are finally ready to welcome new platform entrants with open arms.
Virtual Reality Travel
When you think about it, if there is any industry naturally suited to the application of virtual reality (VR), it’s travel and hospitality. Prior to booking a trip, travelers spend countless hours researching every potential detail of their trip, from their destination to potential hotels, activities, and more. In fact, TripAdvisor reports that 80% of all travelers will spend around four weeks researching a destination. Considering this exhaustive effort represents a significant portion of the travelers’ booking journey, it should come as no surprise that hospitality brands are eager to leverage VR for truly immersive tours. By moving beyond the limitations of traditional multimedia elements (photo galleries and virtual tours), hotels can give potential guests a tangible taste of the guest experience they offer, which will help to stimulate their travel inspiration. From an event and group booking perspective, VR technology will allow event planners to skip the in-person tour in favor of an immersive VR experience that will, in turn, accelerate and streamline the venue booking process.
By now, you may be tired of hearing about the demand for self-service touch-points; after all, self-service technology isn’t technically new. But that is, in fact, the whole point – self-service platforms have become omnipresent in our world. Within travel and hospitality especially, customers expect to have the liberty to choose between self-service convenience or traditional service touch-points. From contactless check-in to self-service kiosks, AI-powered chatbots for customer service, mobile payments, and more, modern travelers expect to always have access to a flexible variety of service mediums.
To this effect, according to the Skift and AWS survey, 43.3 percent of global travel leaders say that offering always-on, automated communications options, such as onsite kiosks, online chatbots, and around-the-clock contact centers was a key factor in providing better service to guests. Of course, self-service will never replace traditional, face-to-face service entirely; rather, it helps ensure guests have complete autonomy and no longer fall through the cracks when agents are otherwise occupied. Moreover, by offsetting a portion of the service demand historically placed on hospitality staff, brands can put their agents in a better position to engage with guest requests in an effective, meaningful, memorable manner.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been dominating headlines, and for a good reason. As reported by VentureBeat, 2021 was a big year for the emergence of AI, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down. “Though generative AI led much of this year’s trending coverage, it wasn’t the only area of AI where waves were made that had a ripple effect. Intel unveiled what it claims is the first real-time deepfake detector, which works by analyzing subtle “blood flow” in videos and produces results in minutes that are 96% accurate,” the report reads. “And AI continued to seemingly “eat” the world as we know it, even the most mundane technology use cases as the most complex algorithms were reoriented with AI-powered improvements this year. Google released a beta version of Simple ML for its Google Sheets tool to revamp the platform’s capabilities for calculations and graphing. At the same time, DeepMind unveiled its first AI to power faster matrix multiplication algorithms, which some say may be used to improve the entire computer science industry.”
Within the world of hospitality, AI represents the ultimate personalization tool. Today, many of our industry’s most innovative platforms tap into the power of AI by helping hospitality experts better predict demand, personalize guest messaging, and insert memorable moments into every stage of the travelers’ journey. In this regard, AI will not only revolutionize the behind-the-scenes processes used by hospitality brands to predict demand, make marketing decisions, and allocate budgets – it will also transform the guest experience.
The Microservice Revolution
Legacy systems are out – but what is being ushered in to replace them? While the modern “tech stack” is often hailed as the next evolution of technology adoption in the hospitality industry, it’s important to highlight the advantage offered by platforms built atop a microservices infrastructure.
For anyone unfamiliar, microservice architecture is described as “a development methodology wherein you can fragment a single application into a series of smaller services, each executing in its own process and interacting with lightweight mechanisms.” Microservices turns 12 this year, with Amazon, Google, eBay, Netflix, and many other Silicon Valley firms being among the first companies to embrace this architecture.
Within a single, microservices-based platform, hoteliers can benefit from thousands of different API endpoints categorized into applications that can be simultaneously disparate or collaborative. These applications fit together to create a more agile, flexible, intuitive, and entirely future-proof digital ecosystem. Conversely, hotels get into the habit of accumulating disjointed systems (in the pursuit of functionality) that lack interoperability. In that case, they risk creating a digital ‘patchwork’ effect, which undermines the goal of new tech adoption (increased efficiency, data capture, and productivity). Microservices-based platforms, on the other hand, promise digitization without disconnection and allow hospitality brands to build customized applications based on the unique needs of their business while working with one vendor, one platform, and one contract.
As a tenured technologist that has written over one hundred systems in numerous computing environments, I believe that 2023 will be remembered as a critical inflection point in many ways. With each passing week, more and more hospitality and travel brands are looking to our microservices infrastructure to replace their current monolithic systems. The pace of change is accelerating in response to increasing demands for improving operations, reducing costs, and enhancing guest experiences. And this is only the tip of the iceberg, a mere glimpse into the exciting future that lies ahead for all of us.
About Above Property Services (APS™)
Above Property® is leading the charge to deliver innovative, scalable, and services-oriented platforms for the global travel industry and other related verticals. We think differently, and we are constantly innovating. Above Property Services (APS™) offers the only platform that can evolve seamlessly in response to industry demands, with credit to a microservices architecture that empowers continuous development and refinement.
Built from the ground up, the APS ecosystem empowers continuous development and refinement of your critical business processes via a unique microservice architecture. Designed for performance, flexibility, security, and stability, the future-proof framework is up and running quickly, delivering a scalable, cost-effective solution that can work with or replace your existing tools and investments. APS is a platform that adapts to you – not the other way around.
Powering both large and small companies, we understand the industry’s challenges in the past, and we have developed a platform that is suited for the future.
APS® (Above Property® Services)